Category Archives: Service Learning

Global Citizenship

By: Guest Blogger, Yaneth Vrentas

Meridian’s commitment to create an equitable and inclusive culture is both inspiring and engaging. It is present in all aspects of our school from institutional practices to program and community. We strive to reflect this continuous and intentional work in our everyday practice. For this reason, we offer opportunities and experiences that challenge and promote growth in cultural competency for our entire school community. At the center of these efforts is each and every Meridian student. Our ultimate goal is to educate culturally competent, well-rounded, critically thinking students who are prepared to be responsible and active local and global citizens. We are continuously enriching our program to achieve this goal.

Our faculty’s current work involves reviewing our curriculum through the lens of our Global Citizenship Framework. Based on the desired outcomes and skills that we want to foster in our Meridian graduates, we integrated global competency with equity and inclusion education based on curriculum frameworks and core standards. Throughout their years at Meridian, students will develop the awareness, skills, and knowledge required to take action and promote positive change locally and globally.

The framework includes four domains: inquire, investigate, innovate and impact, which we refer to as the 4 I’s. Each domain has a set of outcomes that faculty assess within their units. Students discover more about themselves, others, and the world through inquiry and investigation. They learn about identities and cultures and how we all contribute to diversity and enrich our communities. They analyze and consider how our respective experiences and cultures influence our perspectives. By understanding and valuing the existence of multiple perspectives, students to develop critical thinking skills and empathy. Students also thoughtfully discuss natural and social issues and how they affect communities. They develop a sense of responsibility as global citizens and are empowered to collaborate, plan, and take action to change conditions with big or small everyday actions.

Here are some examples:

Kindergarteners have been learning about aspects of identities and families, and considering what makes us who we are and how it can change over time. As a part of this unit they are discussing internal and external identity, cultural and religious celebrations, and the many family structures and traditions that make up our classroom community.

First graders are learning about rights, responsibilities, and what it means to be an actively engaged local and global citizen.

Second graders are investigating how people and place are connected through exploration of how individuals contribute to the many different communities that they are a part of.

Third grades are completing a unit about cultures, systems and values. Students will soon begin analyzing how people affect the environment and how global warming affects communities.

Fourth graders have been learning about Native American perspectives, Washington state history and tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Later this year, students will engage in conversations about civic and human rights.

Fifth graders are researching their family heritage and will begin studying immigrant stories from the past and present in connection with our thematic, regional study of North America this year.

Classroom libraries are also part of our focus as we are intentionally reviewing educational resources to ensure that they reflect inclusion of multiple perspectives and positive representation of different communities.

Other aspects of the program include field trips, guest speakers, classroom workshops, and school assemblies that foster the development of global citizenship skills in our students.

Developing cultural competence as a learning community requires active participation in education, and the willingness to step outside of our comfort zones to ensure that students become true engaged and responsible global citizens.

Parents are encouraged to follow-up at home with meaningful conversations, attend school or local educational series relating to equity and inclusion topics, and to actively participate in the program. For example, at this time we are looking for parent volunteers that would like to teach a workshop during our Global Citizen Symposium on February 23rd! Share how you have created impact and social change through professional work or civic engagement. We will also use the opportunity to learn more about Central America, the Caribbean and North America. Please contact Marika or Yaneth to share names of people that you think could contribute to the symposium.

Being Buddies

By: Meridian Second & Fifth Grade Buddies

Having buddies at Meridian is awesome! It gives younger students a role model to spend their first years at school with, and gives older students a chance to practice setting a good example. Particularly with fifth and second grade buddies, because the fifth graders get to spend their last year at Meridian teaching and helping the second graders during their last year as a younger buddy. Next year, they will get to be role models to Kindergarteners!  It’s really nice to have someone outside of the classroom you can become close with. We love that we have a different buddy each year because it builds new relationships and we can have time to bond with multiple friends across grade levels.

When we interact with the Tilth garden or Washington Green Schools we usually get to do it as buddy pairs, which makes the projects seem even better. When we are in the Tilth gardens we get to engage with the environment in a positive way, which we do a lot at Meridian. It helps to be involved in the environment to actually see what we are learning about in class. It makes it much more personal, and participating with our buddies helps everyone understand how to help others and get involved in improving where you live. We start partnering with Tilth in Kindergarten, and that teaches us responsibility. During Community Service Day, we went off-campus with our buddies to pick up garbage and waste around the neighborhood. It’s important to help your community, and we appreciate those projects a lot, especially since we get to share those experiences with our buddies!

Spotlight on Service Learning

What is Service Learning?  Service Learning is an approach to teaching and learning that integrates community service with classroom learning. It results in meaningful projects where students’ efforts benefit their community while they gain experience in civic responsibility and teamwork, and deepen their knowledge of core curricular themes.

Each year, grade levels partner with a different , local organization and engage in service learning projects. Last week, students presented their learning to the entire school community.

Kindergarteners worked with Tara, the Good Shepherd Center gardener, to maintain and care for a garden on campus. In connection with Global Studies, students explored ocean pollution and learned how we can protect the planet by reducing, reusing and recycling!

First Graders partnered with local nonprofit organization, City Fruit, to care for the fruit trees in Meridian Park’s orchard.

Second Graders partnered with Mary’s Place, and learned what they can do to raise awareness and support those who are homeless in Seattle. Second graders and their fifth grade buddies also continued their work with Washington Green Schools.

Third Graders coordinated and ran a school-wide community needs project with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. ACRS is a local organization that promotes social justice and the well-being and empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.

Fourth Graders raised salmon, and learned how environmental factors impact the salmon life cycle and population. They released the salmon in Piper’s Creek, and supported habitat renewal with the Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

Fifth Graders completed a project with Washington Green Schools and their second grade buddies, and maintained a year-long partnership with FamilyWorks, volunteering at the local Wallingford food bank each month.

By Meridian K-5th Graders

Service learning is a big project that we do here at Meridian, across all the grades. We learn about people, animals, and places in need and about causes, nonprofits and charities that support them. We learned that some nonprofits help people get the things they need to survive so they can have a better life, not just live from day to day. Service learning is important because we’re actually doing things, not just talking about it.

This year in particular many of our projects tied into Global Studies, so it’s educational and helpful! We as a school like to give back. Our school motto is Meridian Cares–I care for myself, I care for others, I care for my place. Service learning does all three! It improves our place by keeping the environment clean and safe, it helps others when we volunteer with nonprofits that give people safe places to live and things that they need, and it helps ourselves because you feel good when you are learning what you can do to help. Service learning is great because you’re taking care of places and other people, which isn’t something that happens a lot, especially since we’re kids.

We always talk about how where you live affects how you live, and it’s really easy to see that when we are doing service learning. We are looking forward to continuing it at Meridian, but also just in general in our lives. This type of learning helps us be prepared for the future, and not everybody gets those experiences so it’s important to learn how we can help so we can teach others later!

Community Connections

Third graders study our local economy and neighborhood businesses. As they learn about the basics of economics, students do an in depth study of a local business in Wallingford. As a part of this study, students are required to interview business owners.  They then become business owners for a day, managing a budget and creating goods to sell on Wallingford Day. The Meridian community is invited to “shop local” using “Wallingford Money”, a currency only spendable in third grade on Wallingford Day.

By Meridian 3rd Grade Students

In third grade we learn a lot about businesses and organizations in our community and the city of Seattle.

On Wallingford Day everyone in third grade recreates a mini version of the business that they studied and shares their projects with the whole school.

Before we picked our business, we walked down 45th Street and saw and learned about all the different businesses. We took notes of the services or products that each business sells.

On Wallingford Day, all of our visitors are given 40 Meridian dollars to spend, and we see who has made the most at the end of the day. Then we have to pay taxes!

This project was important because It taught us about economics, and how to run a business. We were surprised by how much taxes people have to pay! We learned that it’s a lot of fun to be able to sell things, and it helped us understand what it might be like to have our own business, and it inspired some of us to hopefully run our own business one day.

This month we also ran a food drive in third grade. We are studying Oceania, so we were trying to find a way to include service with our Global Studies unit. That’s when we decided to work with ACRS (Asian Counseling and Referral Service). ACRS runs lots of programs, and a food bank that collects special foods like tofu, rice, soy milk and noodles. These are some traditional foods from Asia and the Pacific Islands, and might make people feel at home.

First we presented at Friday Morning Meeting to try to get our whole school excited about our food drive. Our goal was to collect 800 food items, but we only got to 790. We realized at the end that our goal should have been about the weight of the food and not the number of food items, because the actual amount of food we collected was way more than the items. Our goal was to feed lots of people, so large bags of rice were only one item, but enough to provide some food for an entire family. It helps looking at things with a different perspective!

It felt great to help other people and know that all the items we donated were going to feed so many people. It was a lot of hard work and we were scared at the beginning that we wouldn’t succeed. We were surprised and happy that everyone was so eager to help. It was a really cool experience to see everyone our whole school want to get involved.

Community Service Day

By:  Meridian 2nd Graders

We hacommunity-service-day-gr25d so much fun at Community Service Day this year! Doing things to help isn’t always easy, but we had a lot of fun helping the community. During the day we picked up trash with little grabbers. One of the groups went to the sidewalk, and the other group walked around the park picking up trash left by people. We learned that there is a lot of litter, especially in places we didn’t think there would be, around our neighborhood. There was a lot of trash on the ground, and there was even a soda can in the middle of the road!

Community Service Day is important because it helps make the area cleaner, and makes the community safer for adults, kids and plants. It also makes the park and playground look good for everyone who visits.

It was great to work with our 5th grade buddies! It made it easier to not have to hold the trash bag and use the grabbers to clean up the trash. They also helped because they were able to reach the trash better with their longer arms. It was fun to have new people to work with, and was also nice to have so many parents there helping us out and keeping us safe.

We are very excited to be older buddies, and to spend Community Service Day with Kindergartners next year!

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